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Cloud Enablement & Operations

To the Cloud: The Change in Exchange

Every year technology gets better and faster, existing software gets better, and new software is released.  The only constant is change. A business that does not change is behind the times.  I have been involved with many interesting projects since I have been at GreenPages, and many of them have been related to Exchange in some way.  Most of these are projects involve upgrading Exchange from 2003 or 2007 to 2010.  Recently, I have noticed a new trend regarding Exchange.

Many of our clients are looking to move Exchange to the cloud to get all the benefits and none of the headaches of delivering mail to their users.  Office 365, the latest offering by Microsoft that allows customers to move Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Office to the cloud is out and many of our clients are looking to see if moving their mail to Exchange Online makes sense for them. This offering allows users a way to use these products without running them on local machines, saving money.

This is part of an overall trend that John Ross and other experts at GreenPages have been talking about where applications are becoming the focus rather than the operating system or desktop.  Most users do not care if they are using Windows or an iPad or a browser; what they care about is getting to their mail or the application they need to do their job.  The shift for IT is from delivering devices to delivering applications.

The main concern most of our clients have is security – can one use Exchange safely in a cloud environment?  The answer is yes, you can use Exchange securely and not have to update it, patch it or troubleshoot it if you keep a few things in mind.

  1. You MUST have Office 2007 or 2010 clients to use this service
  2. Archiving is basic and is usually not sufficient for legal hold requirements
  3. Having users with Blackberries could rule you out.  Blackberry support is listed on the features but we have had users with issues with these mobile devices.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. The migration to Exchange Online can be gradual or a cut over, depending on your users and how you want to roll it out.  Many of our clients run in hybrid mode with some users in the cloud and some mailboxes onsite.  Free/busy information can be a problem in this type of cutover.
  2. Resources are mailboxes.  Conference rooms, projectors, printers, etc. require a mailbox in Office 365 and you have to take that in to account for licensing purposes.
  3. Do not make this move without expert help.  E-mail is critical to most organizations and the move to Office 365 is a substantial change.

The move to using Office 365 and specifically Exchange Online is a big move and this is a project that needs careful planning to succeed.  There are many more things to consider than I have mentioned here before you can know if this is right for you or your company.  Call and talk to one of our solution architects or another person that you trust to see if this is right for you.